Henry Anderson, Stanford (6-5, 290): Anderson: The fifth-year senior was first team all-Pac-12 on the field and academically. Anderson recorded 8.5 sacks and 15 tackles for losses. He dominated down the stretch. He had at least one sack in each of the last five games for a total of 6.5 during that period. To gear up for athletic offenses, Anderson – a man of many nicknames -- slimmed down for his senior campaign. He missed half of his junior season with a knee injury. In high school in Atlanta, Anderson was the state champion in the shot put.
Arik Armstead, Oregon (6-7, 292): Armstead, an honorable mention on the all-Pac-12 team, entered the draft following a junior season of 46 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for losses. The former five-star recruit is close friends with possible top-10 pick Shaq Thompson of Washington. A brother, Armond Armstead, played with the Patriots before injuries forced him to retire. Armstead grew up playing basketball and even played both sports at Oregon and chose the school so he could play both sports.
Tavaris Barnes, Clemson (6-4, 253): Barnes started four games in his career at Clemson. As a senior, when he made three of those starts, he had 19 tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. He had a total of two sacks in his first three seasons. It took a conversation with the man in the mirror for Barnes to elevate his level of play as a senior.
Vic Beasley, Clemson (6-3, 235): Beasley’s string of honors from his senior season is a long one: One of three finalists for the Bednarik Award, one of four finalists for the Lombardi Award, one of six finalists for the Hendricks Award, one of nine semifinalists for the Lott Impact Trophy and a string of first- and second-team All-America awards. Of his 37 tackles, 21.5 were for losses and 12 were sacks. The sack total was the fifth-best in school history. He also was an All-American as a junior. He ranks first in school history in sacks (33), fourth in tackles for losses (52.5) and tied for seventh in caused fumbles (seven). Beasley had at least one sack in eight consecutive games from 2013 (2) to 2014 (6) and was involved in a tackle for loss in each of his last 15 games. Beasley said he’s better than Jadeveon Clowney, the top pick of the 2014 draft. His versatility is renowned at Clemson, where he started off as a tight end, played some quarterback and even plays the piano. He got his degree in sociology in August.
Anthony Chickillo, Miami (Fla.) (6-3, 270): Chickillo started 47 of his 50 games at Miami and was a consistent presence with a four-year total of 170 tackles, 15.5 sacks and 25 tackles for losses. He was third-team all-ACC as a senior and an honorable mention as a sophomore. Despite a bunch of injuries, he never missed a game. “Chick” is a third-generation Hurricane. His father, Tony, was a nose tackle and his late grandfather, Nick, was an All-American lineman.
Frank Clark, Michigan (6-1, 276): Clark played 48 games and started for most of his final two seasons. He had 43 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 12 tackles for losses and two fumble recoveries as a junior and 42 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 13 TFLs and four recoveries as a senior. That he was allowed to play 10 games as a senior was a source of controversy. A fight with a girlfriend was just the latest black mark on his resume.
Corey Crawford, Clemson (6-5, 264): Crawford – Vic Beasley’s sidekick – had a senior season of 27 tackles, including two sacks and seven for losses. He was honorable mention all-ACC as a junior with three sacks, 10.5 TFLs and a team-high 16 quarterback pressures. When the rest of the NFL dons pink shoes next season, it will be especially meaningful for Crawford. His mom died in 2012 because of breast cancer. “When my teammates didn’t have anything to eat, she’d always cooked enough. She used to say, you never know who’s hungry, so my teammates would come over and get a plate. That’s how she impacted people. As soon as one of my teammates would meet her, they’d click because of how genuine she was, so accepting of people.”
Tyeler Davison, Fresno State (6-1, 301): Davison was a three-time all-Mountain West performer, including first-team honors as a senior and sophomore. Compared to most nose tackles, Davison was statistical juggernaut. As a senior, he posted 61 tackles – including 8.5 sacks and 13 TFLs, both of which ranked among the league leaders and set career highs. “When you play nose guard, it’s not about getting the glory or the stats. It’s about getting the win.” He’s tireless, too. In a game against Boise State last season, he played all 100 defensive snaps.
Ryan Delaire, Towson (6-4, 257): Delaire was a third-team FCS All-American for the second year following a senior season of 11 sacks, 14.5 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles. In two seasons after transferring from UMass, he piled up 22.5 sacks. The transfer put him on NFL radars after getting only a modest amount of playing time at UMass. He was a four-sport athlete in high school.
B.J. Dubose, Louisville (6-4, 266): Dubose had 41 tackles, including four sacks and 7.5 TFLs, to earn honorable mention all-conference as a senior. It was his first season as a full-time starter. In 2012, Dubose got himself in then-coach Charlie Strong’s doghouse and, eventually, suspended. "I had to leave the Sugar Bowl," Dubose said. "I was embarrassed and felt bad for everything that had happened. I wanted to be out there."
Mario Edwards, Florida State (6-3, 294): Edwards, the top-ranked prep player in the nation, was the playmaker of the Seminoles’ defense with his three sacks and team-leading 11 tackles for losses among his 44 tackles as a true junior to earn all-ACC first-team honors. Edwards shrank during the 2014 season, going from 312 pounds to about 277 for the playoff game against Oregon. The limited sack total notwithstanding, he’s the rare big man who can win with size, strength or athleticism. In full pads, he can do a standing backflip. His dad played for the Seminoles and in the NFL.
Kyle Emanuel, North Dakota State (6-3, 251): Emanuel won the Buck Buchanan Award, which goes to the top defender in the FCS ranks. He led the FCS with 19.5 sacks and 32.5 tackles for losses, finished third on the team with 97 tackles and added three forced fumbles. Against Iowa State, he tallied two sacks and four TFLs. He tied the school record with 41.5 sacks to help the Bison go 58-3 with four national championships during his career. He was also a first-team Academic All-American. “(Former Bison head) coach (Craig) Bohl told me, ‘If you commit here, I really think you will be part of a national championship … he didn’t say four championships,” Emanuel said in an interview with The (Fargo) Forum newspaper. “He didn’t even mention about getting the opportunity for four championships. But who could have ever imagined that?”
Trey Flowers, Arkansas (6-3, 267): Flowers, a three-year starter, finished third on the team with 68 tackles, including team-leading figures of six sacks and 15.5 TFLs to earn second-team all-SEC honors for the second consecutive year. He was nominated for the Senior CLASS Award and should do well at the Combine with his athleticism.
Dante Fowler Jr., Florida (6-3, 266): Fowler was a shining light for the downtrodden Gators. He leaves following a junior season of 60 tackles, 8.5 sacks and 15 tackles for losses. In the three games after announcing he would turn pro, he tallied four sacks and five tackles for losses. Fowler gave up Big Macs in hopes of producing a big 2014 season. "I'm trying to find ways to be a dominant player," he said. "Dominant players take the film room seriously; dominant players practice hard; and dominant players are consistent in every game. Those are the three things I want to be consistent in."
Markus Golden, Missouri (6-2, 255): Golden had a big senior season with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for losses among his 78 stops, plus three forced fumbles and three recoveries. That was good for honorable mention in the SEC. As a junior, he had 6.5 sacks and 13 TFLs behind the star duo of Kony Ealy and Michael Sam. In high school, as his mom struggled financially, Golden’s grades went in the tank and his hot temper got him expelled from school for a semester. “It’s like he hated the world,” his mom said. So, despite 2,264 rushing yards, 30 rushing touchdowns, 108 tackles and 10 sacks as a senior, he had to enroll at a junior college, where he spent two years — one as a redshirt so he could focus on email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.